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Latest Cycling News, October 16, 2008

Edited by Hedwig Kröner

Ongoing battle for cycling's governing body

Pat McQuaid agrees with longer bans
Photo ©: Sirotti
(Click for larger image)

It's been a bleak couple of weeks for cycling, with three more Tour de France riders returning positive A samples for the new generation of EPO, CERA. Like ASO and many others in the sport, the UCI had hoped that this year's Tour would pass without major scandal, but it was not to be. Cyclingnews' Shane Stokes spoke to its President Pat McQuaid about the latest test findings and the way forward.

"My first reactions are obviously shock, anger and dismay... that guys are still willing to cheat. After all that has been done, after all that has been said, after all the efforts that people have made to try to bring the credibility back to the sport over the past couple of years, individuals will still resort to cheating." said Pat McQuaid, describing his feelings about the recently-announced positive results for Leonardo Piepoli, Stefan Schumacher and Bernhard Kohl, who between them won three stages, wore the yellow jersey, finished third overall and triumphed in the mountains classification of this year's Tour de France.

Since taking office in September 2005, the UCI president has repeatedly said that fighting doping is one of his biggest priorities. This and the ProTour were high on his list, and he's had a big headache from both; the first aim became even more pressing when the Operación Puerto scandal broke and Floyd Landis tested positive during the 2006 Tour de France. Since then, there have been plenty of high profile positive cases in the sport, and while this year's Tour was supposed to be all about a new start, the seven positives from the race show that a scandal-free event is still some way off.

The prevalent, pessimistic view is that some riders will always try to find a way to cheat, to beat the system.

Read the full feature.

Armstrong skips Tour presentation

Two days after it was made public that the Giro d'Italia may be his only three-week race target of his comeback season next year, it has been made public that Lance Armstrong will not appear at the official presentation of the Tour de France, to be held in Paris' Palais des Congrès next week. A spokesman of the American told L'Equipe that the seven-times Tour de France winner would not travel to Paris on October 22 to assist the announcement of next year's route.

Contador and Pereiro will again wear suits in Paris
Photo ©: AFP
(Click for larger image)

While this can be seen as another indication for Armstrong's absence in the 2009 Tour, nothing is certain, as the cancer survivor also skipped the fancy presentations of the race in his last three years as a professional.

Meanwhile, his Astana teammate and 2007 winner of the event, Alberto Contador, 2006 winner Oscar Pereiro and this year's champion, Carlos Sastre, have confirmed their attendance. The kings of the last three Tours will discover the parcours details in the presence of Prince Albert II of Monaco, as the 2009 Grande Boucle will take its Grand Départ in the Principality of Monaco. First leaks of the Tour route emerged last month, with Barcelona a likely stage town of the first week and the Mont Ventoux a probable mountain stage on the penultimate day.

Stay tuned to Cyclingnews on October 22 for the breaking news on the 2009 Tour de France route.

Lombardia offers Danielson end of season boost

By Shane Stokes

Tom Danielson (Garmin-Chipotle) hopes for a good showing in the Giro di Lombardia
Photo ©: Jon Devich
(Click for larger image)

Having spent recent months trying to get back to his top form, Garmin-Chipotle rider Tom Danielson is hoping for a strong ride in this Saturday's Giro di Lombardia.

The 30 year-old has had a tough run of things since winning a stage in the 2006 Vuelta a España, with injury and illness preventing him from building upon that achievement. However, he's been working hard in racing and training of late and knows that a good showing in the Italian Classic would boost his morale prior to the start of his off-season training.

"I've been training in the mountains at my home in Puigcerda, Spain, between doing some flat, crosswind 'quawk-fest' races such as Poitou-Charentes and Paris-Tours," he told Cyclingnews on Wednesday. "I guess you can say in one month I've gotten in everything from a time trial and pulling on the front like crazy in Missouri, to attacking endlessly at USPRO, to banging handlebars in crosswinds in France, to riding up giant mountains near my home in the Pyrenees, and finally to looking after my good friend Tyler Farrar in Paris-Tours. I also just got married to my girlfriend Stephanie in September, so it's been an exciting fall for me!"

Danielson's season results include 15th in the general classification in the Tour du Poitou-Charentes, fifth in the US time trial championship, sixth in the road race event and fifth overall in the Tour of Missouri. He was also eighth on stage three of the same race. Those are solid results, but his enforced time off the bike means that he still hasn't regained his old Vuelta-stage winning condition.

However, Danielson felt that his hard work is paying off. "My form has been improving nicely each week," he stated. "This year has been very testing for me and I am happy to have put everything back together. The big thing has just been fine-tuning my confidence. After being off the bike so long, it was hard to actually believe that in the races I could be there with the best. The nationals time trial was really where everything clicked again for me. After that my confidence is coming back and I am able to drive myself with the throttle wide open again."

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One benefit of the way his season has panned out - he wasn't selected for the Tour de France, his big season goal - is that his reserves are still good. While many other riders are simply going through the motions, waiting for the end of the season and the chance to hang up their racing wheels for a while, he's mentally fresh. That's helped him maintain focus for the upcoming Italian Classic.

The thoughts of showing well there fire him up. "Lombardia is a race that I have always wanted to do," he said. "It's a beautiful Classic that has been a big part of cycling's history. Some great riders have won this race and its about time for me to see what its all about.

"My team has faith in me that I can do a good result here, and I would really love to do so. What is a good result? Well, in my opinion that would be leaving it all out there and riding at the highest level possible for me. If I do that, then I will be there with the best."

Danielson said that many riders will be in contention in the tough 242 kilometre event, but has two in mind. "I think there are many guys to watch on Saturday. I think Cunego and Sanchez are the favourites. Both can climb very well, both excel in one-day races, and both can sprint better then most out there. Of course, this is cycling, and it's very unpredictable. Who knows, maybe [Dave] Zabriskie will throw on the skin suit and ride away from everyone!"

Sánchez to stay with Euskaltel, targets Lombardia

Samuel Sánchez will remain in orange throughout 2009 and aims for the top spot in the Giro di Lombardia this week-end
Photo ©: Susanne Goetze
(Click for larger image)

Olympic champion Samuel Sánchez has announced that he will not change teams but remain with his Euskaltel-Euskadi squad for next season. The 30 year-old, who started his professional career with the Basque team in 2000, is the only non-Basque rider of the outfit. A native of Oviedo, Asturias, Sánchez nevertheless spent a lot of time in the Basque country during his Junior and U23 years and feels great attachment to the team.

Sánchez has not yet signed the contract because of a few "details", but already made it clear the deal was almost done. "The negotiations went well," he told the Diario Vasco. "They told me they couldn't meet my initial demands so I lowered them a bit, and they increased their offer. I see myself at Euskaltel."

The Olympic road race champion now targets the last ProTour race of the season, the Giro di Lombardia on Saturday, in which he already finished second and third these past two years. "I will race the Giro de Piemonte [today - ed.] and Lombardia. In Paris-Tours, I felt good. I finished in the front group. It was over 252 kilometres, and I managed the distance very well. In Lombardia, I will try to be a contender," said Sánchez.

"The key to this race is the Ghisallo climb. If you pass it in front, you can win," he added. (AS)

Deutschland Tour loses sponsor

Recent doping cases, including the one of 2008 Tour de France mountains jersey winner Bernhard Kohl, have made the Deutschland Tour lose one of its sponsors for next year. The owners of " Tirol" have decided to pull out of their engagement in cycling. "At the moment I can exclude an advertising cooperation of the previous scope," said marketing chief Josef Margreiter to German sports news agency sid.

The Austrian region of Tyrol has been visited by the Deutschland Tour in every edition during the last five years, with the famous Rettenbachferner climb a mountaintop finish twice. But the recent doping revelations have made cycling a less attractive marketing tool in German-speaking countries such as Austria. "We cannot continue as if nothing happened. It doesn't look good at the moment," added Margreiter.

The Tour of Germany 2009 might therefore not pass through Tyrol again, and must fear for its existence anyhow. German television broadcaster ARD is debating today of continuing - or discontinuing - their live reports of the biggest events in cycling, including the Tour de France and the Deutschland Tour. If it is decided that live transmissions are no longer an option, the national tour is seriously endangered.

New H2O team takes shape

The new Canadian-backed Team H2O has started recruiting its roster for next season. French cycling website Cyclismag reported that the squad managed by Max Radoni has now officially signed Swiss rider Rubens Bertogliati (Scott-American Beef), who wore the Yellow jersey in the 2002 Tour de France, as well as Spaniard Sergio Pardilla (Burgos Monumental), winner of the 2007 Tour des Pyrénées.

The team, which hopes to become a Professional Continental outfit in 2009, also signed three Frenchmen: Patrice Halgand (Crédit Agricole), Aurélien Passeron (Scott-American Beef) and Mikaël Szkolnik (Albi VS).

Three amateur riders from Radoni's cycling club BC Vallauris - Micula Dematteis, Pedro and Jesus Merino - will also become pros within the team next year.

Meanwhile, talks to bigger names such as Davide Rebellin are ongoing, with Luca Paolini and Italian champion Filippo Simeoni reported to be close to signing.

Lhotellerie to Vacansoleil

French pro Clément Lhotellerie has signed a one-year deal with the new Vacansoleil team, which has applied for a Professional Continental license in 2009. The winner of the 2008 Paris-Nice mountains jersey is leaving Skil-Shimano prematurely, as he was still under contract for one more year.

The 22 year-old Lhotellerie will thus be guided by current Cycle Collstrop manager Hilaire Van der Schueren, who is setting up the new Dutch squad for next season. After his success in Paris-Nice, the young Frenchman also finished second at the Quatre Jours de Dunkerque and the Ruta del Sol this year.

(Additional editorial assistance provided by Antonio J. Salmerón.)

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